The rise of 'quiet quitting': how overtime led to an HR crisis

'Any increase in overtime is a dangerous signal that staff are under pressure'

The rise of 'quiet quitting': how overtime led to an HR crisis

Forty-five per cent of organisations saw an increase in the level of overtime over the last financial year, as employers are warned that this could lead to further "quiet quitting" among employees. The latest Hays Salary Guide found that 51% of organisations kept overtime rates steady year-on-year, while only four per cent managed to reduce this.

For 31% of organisations, the average weekly amount of overtime was higher by 10% than the standard hours, equivalent to at least extra four hours in a 40-hour working week, according to the report.

This is even higher for eight per cent of organisations, revealed the report, which had over 21% of weekly overtime average, already equivalent to more than eight hours per working week.

Alarmingly, 56% of overtime taken in Australia is unpaid, as also revealed by the report.

Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays, attributed the overtime increase to the skills shortage faced by organisations.

"Skills shortages reached acute levels in the past year, leading many employers to ask their existing team to work longer hours to cover critical gaps," said Deligiannis in a statement.

Read more: 'Quiet quitting': The toxic employee trend that's worrying HR

'Quiet quitting' warning

The last financial year might not even be the peak to the rising overtime rates, as Deligiannis also said that 83% of employers are still limited by the skills shortages, which will impact operations and increase workload for existing staff.

"Any increase in overtime is a dangerous signal that staff are under pressure," said the managing director. "Morale, health, wellbeing and stress-related absenteeism could all be affected."

This potential rise in overtime rates could further fuel the emerging trend of "quiet quitting" among employees, according to Deligiannis.

"This can either lead to rising turnover or, in a new trend, quiet quitting," he said. "Quiet quitting sees employees make a conscious decision to perform the bare minimum at work. For instance, they won't stay back to help a colleague meet a deadline, work on a task that isn't in their job description or volunteer for additional work. For them, an adequate effort is enough to get by."

To prevent this, Hays advised employers to counter the rising overtime rates by:

  • Leveraging tools and software to track working hours, detect overtime patterns, and identify predictors of burnout
  • Using employee pulse surveys to measure employee wellbeing
  • Reviewing the organisation's resource model and embedding agility to scale up for seasonal peaks without negatively impacting employee wellbeing and satisfaction
  • Encouraging staff to take time off immediately before or after seasonal peaks

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